Run Joyfully; Run Like A Child

Running Streak Day 586
YTD Mileage: 1216 miles

The days of August are here, with the full force of heat and humidity that wilts one’s

Barton Creek Greenway, ATX (this area accessed by Hill of Life trailhead)

resolve to keep up with training as surely as it wilts the vitality of every living creature and plant that exists in a somewhat harsh environment such as ours in South Texas. With an October race (Oregon Coast 50k) looming large, my training schedule at this point includes ever increasing weekend long runs. The problem is that along with those ever increasing long runs is my ever increasing summer season fatigue. Motivation to run is difficult to muster when I knows that within minutes I’ll be soaked to the skin, clothes as wet and sticking to skin as if I’ve been swimming, and my breathing labored in the heat. When the temperature is cold, I know I will warm up pleasantly shortly after I begin the run; however, when the temperature outside is near triple digits, I know I will just continue to heat up as my run progresses.

Sadly, I’ve let the heat triumph over my determination, and I am behind in my 50k training.I’m also behind in my weekly running goal, which means I’m also behind in my goal to run 2016 miles in 2016. I think I was behind at this point last year, too, but I can’t really remember. Just about the only running goal I’m meeting right now is my goal to keep up my running streak (and THIS goal is becoming quite burdensome in this weather). Everyone I know who runs is going through the same late-summer heat fatigue and struggling: struggling to get out the AC into the heat to run, struggling with motivation, struggling with pace and effort in the heat and humidity, struggling to meet running goals. Many people turn to treadmills as a way to keep training but for many people using a treadmill saps motivation even more than running in the heat.

I recently met Emiliano (who prefers the nickname The Fastest Runner) and Raylen (who prefers the nickname The Running Champion) with their family on the Leon Creek Greenway. Both boy prefer to carry their shoes so that they can run barefoot : )

Yet, not everyone who spends time running outside is struggling to be active in the heat. When Phillip and I take our grandsons, ages five, four, and two years old to the park, they and the other children at the park run effortlessly and lightly from the swings to the slides to the climbing toys while the adults who accompany them seek shelter in whatever shade is available. When visit them or they visit us, Phillip and I stand wilting in the heat of the day as the boys race around oblivious to the sweltering heat. When we run on the greenway near our home in San Antonio, we see parents ambling along while their children run and skip on ahead, full of energy and life. Watching children run and play outside as if magically shielded from the effects extreme South Texas heat of August on the human body, I am reminded that in addition to having the physiological advantages of youth, children have the advantage of youthful perspective. One reason they don’t seem to succumb to the heat of summer is that they are engaged in activity as play. Their running, skipping, and jumping is not restricted by ideas about training schedules, regular speed work, mileage goals, nor any other specific concern of adults who run. They are motivated by play and enjoyment.


The lesson runners can learn from watching the manner in which children enjoy the outdoors despite the triple-digit temperatures and high dew point is that we must, at least during this time of year, view our running as play. If we let go of specific mileage and training goals for the time being (something that is very difficult for most runners to do) and find ways to turn runs into play, then we will be more motivated to at least keep getting out and keeping our bodies at least running-ready until the weather makes training in earnest more comfortable. This change in my perspective has helped me to keep running every day. A couple of weeks ago, after heat-related nausea led to a failed long run, I woke up the next day rebelling against the idea of running at all. To motivate myself to run, I scratched my plan for another long run that day and instead suggested to Phillip that we run the trails at McKinney Falls. Not much mileage of trails is available at that park, but the area always seems a little bit cooler than the city, and the trails that are in the park are always shady and forgiving. Without the pressure of mileage and pace goals, I even used the opportunity to run on unpaved trails without huaraches or yoga sandals on my feet.

McKinney Falls
Hills of Stone Oak: easy-peasy long run with Gwen, in HOT weather

This past weekend, my BRF Gwen and I had plans for a longish run; we both dreaded running in the heat, however. To give ourselves a psychological boost for a long run on a hot, muggy morning, we planned a loop route that would take us back by our cars. In my car I placed an ice chest filled with ice, bottles of Mexican Coke, and cans of La Croix. We had no pace goal, only a mileage goal, and when we passed our cars half-way through our run we stopped and took a break to drink cold Mexican Cokes. We used our leisurely pace to catch up with each other’s lives, and the run was successful because we aimed for pleasure rather than performance. The point is to turn the runs into something playful to look forward to, instead of something to dread. By following the example of children and turning our summer runs into play, we will find a way to tolerate the heat, turn our training into play, and enjoy our runs. Even when the heat of summer wanes into the cooler, more runner-friendly weather of autumn, however, we would do well to emulate the way children run and play. As Alison Barsalona points out, runners can benefit in multiple ways from imitating the way children run and play.


Author: TD Morris

I am a small business owner (ATX Ultra Eats, gluten-free, grain-free products who loves God, my family, my dogs, running, barefoot running, cooking, eating, and reading!

2 thoughts on “Run Joyfully; Run Like A Child”

  1. Hello … I found your blog after asking the Cloudsplitter RD whether anyone had run the 100M or 100K in huaraches … as I recalled seeing photos of a woman on the course in sandals after the first running. She told me the name of your blog … so, maybe you have some tips for me? I’ve been meaning to get a blog going, but have been more focused on running 100M’s in sandals and creating content for my You Tube channel … although I suspect having the blog might help the video channel and vice versa. I’ve been intrigued by CS since first hearing about it prior to it’s first running. I took a trip to preview the course and get familiar with the area a few weeks ago … and to test my gear. A video about that journey, Happy Trails …

    1. Hi, Randy! I absolutely LOVED running Cloudsplitter! If you’ve looked around on my blog, you know already that I run completely barefoot most of the time. I wear huaraches on technical, rocky trails (which are the main type of trails we have in Central and South Texas). Sometimes when my husband and I have run in mountainous areas on vacation, I find I can run many of the mountain trails barefoot. Since I ran Cloudsplitter in its inaugural year, not enough information about the course was available for me to figure out whether I could run that race barefoot, or whether I needed to wear my huaraches. I prefer barefoot even to my huaraches. Anything at all on my feet feels heavy to me. The Cloudsplitter course is (or was in its 2014 inaugural year, anyway) an out and back. I decided to wear my huaraches for the first fifteen miles and leave them in my drop bag at the turn-around point if I didn’t need them. I did, however, need to wear the sandals for the entire race. Much of the trail is very rocky, with areas of loose rock. The course runs through forest, of course, and therefore begins to darken long before the sun actually sets. By the time we finished, the woods were dark enough that my vision was diminished. Having planned to finish before sunset, I didn’t bother to take a headlamp. For these reasons, I needed to wear my huaraches for that race. I had no problems at all with my huaraches on the course. You should be fine wearing yours. Incidentally, I’m currently in CO running Rocky Mountain trails barefoot, without huaraches, even though they are somewhat rocky. They are just not as treacherously rocky as the Cloudsplitter Trails. Let me know if you have anymore questions about Cloudsplitter! I’m definitely going to check out that link you posted in your comment! Have a great day!!! Check back and let me know what you decide to do about Cloudsplitter (again it’s a MUST DO race)!

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